I remember taking my first multiple choice exam in Kindergarten.
It was for standardized testing, and I took similar exams many times between that day and the day I finished twelfth grade. And then when I started teaching, I was the one giving multiple choice tests to my students. I’m not here to discuss the merits and maladies of multiple choice tests, because they do have both. I am here to tell you that you can use multiple choice questions in your classroom in creative ways that will benefit your students even more than just choosing from A, B, C, or D. So if you have some multiple choice questions handy, try one of these easy exercises with your ESL students to keep things interesting and still learn about the English language.
6 Approaches to Answering Multiple Choice Questions
Get a Move On
One big challenge ESL teachers often face is getting their students moving during class. This marriage of multiple choice questions and the game Stations will get your students moving and working through the questions, too. Start by assigning each wall of your room the letters A through D (for multiple choice questions with four answer options). Then read your students a multiple choice question. It’s even better if you can project the question and its answer options on a wall in your room. Once students have their answer, they dash to the appropriate wall and place their hand on its surface. You will be able to quickly see who gets each answer right and wrong, and your students will be able to get some of their energy out in a productive way.
Questions in Reverse
Giving your students multiple choice questions without their answers is an easy activity, but why not change things up even more. Give your students the multiple answers to several questions, and then have them work with one or two others to write the questions. Since students will be writing different questions with different answer choices as the correct ones, you can have your students exchange their papers after the questions are written and have them complete the questions.
Can’t Get Enough
This challenging activity is fun for students as they write their own wrong answers to multiple choice questions. Start with your class sitting in a circle. Give each person a unique numbered multiple choice question written on the flap of an envelope. Inside, provide two possible (handwritten) answers to the question. Students should write the number of the question at the top of their paper along with their answer choice. Then, each person writes another possible answer on a slip of paper and puts in in the envelope along with the other two. Students then pass the envelopes to the person on their left. Now students read the new question and choose the right answer from the slips inside the envelope before adding another possible answer. Continue answering questions and adding possible answers until the questions return to their first owners. As a class, review the correct answers to each question and discuss whether it became more difficult to answer once there were more options to choose from for each question.
Piecing Things Together
Can your students tell which right and wrong answers go to each question? You will see in this mixed up way of tackling multiple choice questions. Starting with typical multiple choice questions, create a puzzle for your students. Separate each question from its set of answers. For example, if you have ten questions, you would also have ten separate sets of answers to choose from. Students then work in groups of two or three to match the right answer sets to the right questions. As they do, they will have to determine the answers to the questions. They won’t know until they have matched all ten whether they chose the correct set for each question.
The Answer Is…
Have you tried giving your students multiple choice questions with the correct answers already marked? You can do this and still get learning benefits from the activity. Rather than choosing the correct answer, have students explain why each of the other options is incorrect. This will teach them how to analyze options in a multiple choice setting and should enable them to eliminate answers when they are faced with future multiple choice questions.
Spell It Out
You can create a puzzle for your students to solve as they answer multiple choice questions. Your students will choose the correct answers whose letters will spell out a secret word. Take a set of standard multiple choice questions, and change the letters of each correct answer to spell a word. Your word will need as many letters as multiple choice questions you have. Then change the letters of the other answers for each question. So instead of having A, B, C, and D as choices for every question, you may give students a choice between W, K, E, and G for one question and H, M, I, and L for another. Before you do the activity with your class, prepare or have your students prepare a set of clothes pins with the letters A to Z. You may need multiples of certain letters depending on what word your correct answers will spell out. Then as students answer the questions, they choose the appropriate clothespin and clip it to the bottom of their paper in order. When they have finished all of the questions, their answers across the bottom of the page should spell the secret word.
Your multiple choice activities don’t have to be as straightforward as A, B, C, or D.
Try changing things up a bit with your class and see how your students become more interested and engaged. You just might find that your multiple choice activities are even easier than A, B, C.
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